October 3, 2006 > Sharing Ramadan
by S. Reshma Yunus
The Islamic Society of East Bay (ISEB), located on 33330 Peace Terrace in Fremont, will host a Ramadan Open House on Sunday Oct. 8. The open house is part of a public outreach effort organized by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Eight Bay Area mosques are participating including ISEB. According to CAIR representatives, the outreach effort, entitled "Sharing Ramadan" is an effort to enhance the understanding of Islam and to help Americans of all faiths meet their Muslim neighbors by taking part in a complimentary Ramadan "Iftaar," or fast-breaking meal.
For Muslims, the month of Ramadan is sacred. It is the month that the holy Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims refrain from food, drink, and intimate relations from dawn until dusk. The fast is "opened" at sunset just before the post-sunset prayer. Muslims refer to this meal as "iftaar" (an Arabic word literally meaning breakfast).
Jitu Choudhury, ISEB outreach committee chair and primary coordinator of the event, explains. "It is part of our religious tradition to invite our family, friends and neighbors to have iftaar and dinner with us during this month." Choudhury has been coordinating mosque outreach programs for many years beginning in England where he resided before migrating to the United States.
"Many people are curious about Ramadan and other Islamic rituals such as how and why we fast, how we pray, what food we eat, the clothes we wear," says Choudhury. Muslims, especially since 9/11, have felt that there is much misinformation about Islam and Muslims. "This open house program will give our fellow Americans an opportunity to meet with Muslims personally and to ask questions directly to us," Choudhury says.
Dr Fareeda Rajabally, a community member who has assisted with several mosque open houses over the years says, "We have received large numbers of people coming to this event, we welcome an open meeting. This program gives the public a chance to meet Muslim neighbors and colleagues at a pleasant setting - over dinner. There are over one billion Muslims worldwide who are peace loving and family oriented people; many are living right next door!"
"We hope the open house will enable genuine dialogue with our neighbors," Rajabally adds. Jitu Choudhury agrees, "Primarily, this event is about community building and sharing the bounties of the holy month with our neighbors."
The event will begin with registration at 4:00 p.m. The open house includes a tour of the mosque, cultural booths presenting Islam in different countries around the world, a presentation by children on Islamic beliefs, a panel discussion, question and answer session on topics related to Islam and Muslims and a delicious dinner. The iftaar and dinner will be a multicultural selection (Indian, Middle Eastern, Fijian). Presentations will also include information about Ramadan, the month of fasting. ISEB has invited the Honorable Mayor of Fremont, Bob Wasserman to speak at the event.
The event is free and open to the public. The presentations are synchronized with American Sign Language interpreter and the event is wheelchair accessible. Advance registration is preferred for the event to ensure enough food for everyone. To register for the event or for more information or to send questions in advance, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, you can contact (510) 429-4732 or visit the ISEB website at www.iseb.org.
Ramadan Open House
Sunday Oct. 8
Islamic Society of East Bay
33330 Peace Terrace, Fremont